I found this shadow in front of my local coffee shop this morning. It’s beautiful, so I caught this with my phone.
Looking at it just now, it occurred to me that the actual plant which cast the shadow is far more beautiful, in full color, living and photo-synthesizing life from the light of the sun which cast this shadow. Yet I am drawn to the shadow first. There is a simple elegance to it. It’s clean and easy to understand. In two dimensions it is easier to compose into an image.
How many of us look at life this way? We avoid the messy complexity of a full color existence, instead opting for the safety of black and white.
This image was taken last August in South Dakota. As is the case with most of my photographs, it was the abstraction of forms which inspired me to point and click. I love the contrast between the organic forms of the lake and the manufactured angles of the fence, and the way time has eroded the materials of the fence and blurred that contrast.
We build fences across the landscapes of our lives. Some protect us from perceived or known danger. Some separate us from other people. Some are internal, built from fear, instinct, and experience. Some are cultural and/or moral.
Over time, these fences shift, eroded or strengthened by maturity, ambiguity, experiences both positive and negative, and education, both good and bad. The older we get, the more cluttered with fences and remnants of fences our landscape becomes. Often, the path to something we desire or need is blocked by one or more of them. We stumble into it and stall on the path to the fulfillment of that need or desire. We have a hard time looking from side to side, so focused are we on our goal. If we could break that focus, we might see that a short walk in one direction or swim in the other will take us to the other side of that seemingly insurmountable obstacle. But we don’t. We keep banging our head and heart against that barrier, and in doing so we paradoxically make it stronger. If there is a person on the other side, we make it harder and harder for them to see or reach us.
Self imposed barriers are the hardest, because we believe in them, in the need for them, and in our justifications of them. We often don’t want to consider alternatives, even if we need to, so these fences become stronger and stronger.
The solution is to step back far enough to see the entire landscape and how our fences cross and interact with it. Then we can chart a path to our goal.